A stripey summer bee, Anthidium manicatum

Anthidium manicatum male on sedum

Anthidium manicatum male

I see a lot of Anthidium manicatum in the garden in the summer.  Like most bees it is a question of what flowers you grow.  I have several large clumps of nepeta, lots of lavender and different sedum.  There is a large clump of nepeta in a sunny spot in the back garden with a sedum right beside it.  Paradise for the Anthidiums!

Anthidium manicatum male on sedum

Anthidium manicatum male on sedum

The males can be recognised by the shape of the five prongs at the end of their abdomen.

Male Anthidium manicatum

It is not always easy to see the prongs when they are at rest on flowers.  You can see four in the photograph above and have to imagine the fifth on the other side.  The curve of the rear three prongs is also diagnostic.

Anthidium manicatum male head

Anthidium manicatum male head

I would also like to add that no bees were injured to deliver these close-ups and he was shortly patrolling the Nepeta after his photo session.

Anthidium manicatum male side view

Anthidium manicatum male side view

In this photograph my bee is posing with his middle leg forward to show off another particularity of the Anthidium bees.  Bees have a claw at the end of their legs with a little appendix or arolium in the centre of it.  Anthidium have no arolium on their claw – just a 2-pronged claw!

Anthidium manicatum male head

Anthidium manicatum male head

Well I think he is cute.

Anthidium manicatum female on Nepeta

Anthidium manicatum female on Nepeta

The female also has a yellow face but the shape is different.  I was photographing this one when – bang – a male arrived.

Anthidium manicatum mating

Anthidium manicatum mating 26.6.13

No courtship, no preambles, in fact, no choice.  Some male bees can be considerably smaller than the females but the Anthidium males are larger than the females so it is a case of brute force.

Anthidium manicatum mating in lavender

Anthidium manicatum mating in lavender 19.7.13

I was enjoying watching the Anthidium and the Anthophora in the lavender in July and every now and again there was the – bang.  The female Anthidiums were very long suffering and seemed to ignore the males.

Anthidium manicatum on yellow flower 9.8.13

Anthidium manicatum on yellow flower in garden 9.8.13

The male Anthidiums have a bad reputation for being aggressive towards other bees and even wasps and are seemingly capable of tearing their wings with the sharp prongs on the end of their abdomen.

I have not seen this aggression as they share the Nepeta and other flowers with lots of other insects.  Maybe the ones in the Charente Maritime are more laid back – it would not surprise me, it is that sort of place.

Female Anthidium Manicatum on camera 14.7.13

Female Anthidium Manicatum on camera 14.7.13

As I said, I have never found them aggressive.

Female Anthidium manicatum examining camera lens

Female Anthidium manicatum examining camera lens

Inquisitive, perhaps.

Anthidium manicatum on finger


Anthidium manicatum, femalePersistent

Anthidium manicatum on neck

But sweet!

My fifth bee identification ends with a bee kiss.



13 thoughts on “A stripey summer bee, Anthidium manicatum

  1. Great shot showing the diagnostic prongs on the rear end. It’s really hard to do that unless you take the time to catch them and do a few studio shots. I’m really enjoying this blog and the way you are learning and focusing on a particular group of creatures.


    • Doing the blog helps me focus and I learn what to look for by going through the keys, so I’ll know more what to concentrate on during the coming season. Sometimes I despair when it seems so detailed but then I remember how little I knew a year ago. There is a lot to upload.


  2. It is interesting to see how much people seem to love the Anthidium Manicatum bees. I saw my first one last summer and it knocked a bee out of a flower and chased after it. This year , there are many more in my garden. The males are holy terrors. When they hover, they have some unsuspecting bumble bee in sight.. and wham, body slams the bee and chases after it (if the bumble bee can still fly). I think it is causing havoc in my garden and I have grown to dislike this bee. Does it have any natural predators in our area? I admit this bee is interesting to observe.. but I fear that this is bad news for out struggling bumble bees. I saw a dead Bumbus Vosnesenski on my back patio and it was missing a face? No ants.. so why was the face missing? I am concerned about this “alien”


    • The male Anthidium manicatum bees are real thugs but only the females have to worry about their advances, they only warn off any possible competition. All bees are vegetarian! Bee predators are many – spiders, robber flies, hornets to name a few. Some hornets feed their larvae with bees but they chew the head off first before taking the body to their nest. Bumble bees are often infected with parasites like mites but I’ve no idea of what could have taken the face. Perhaps it was taken by a bird and then dropped? Amelia


  3. Thanks for your observations, Amelia. Did you take those photos? They are amazing.
    Perhaps the hornets are in the process of taking the bee ( after removing it’s face), back to it’s nest, and I disturbed it. So much to learn, I am reading a wonderful book called: “The Sting is in the Tale” , My adventures with Bumblebees. It is by Dave Goulson ( founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust). It is a fascinating book, full of interesting facts, and funny to boot. I recommend it. Lydia


  4. I found your pretty blog and this post today and like to add some annotations, even though it is an older post. I hope, you and your bees are still fine.

    In my German garden those bees fix me for hours and weeks around some Stachys-plants, where the male Anthidium shapes a honey-bee-free-area. When he gets tired, there is time to get a drink for several butterflies and other insects without being disturbed by honey bees, who painful learned to avoid this area. Round my garden there are too many beekeepers, so the solitary “wild bees” have big problems to find their food and get their children homes provided. So, the real aggressors are honey bees who occupate in unnatural amounts nearly every plant, and not the few Anthidiums and their heavy-armed male protector.

    Therefore “my” male Anthidium is my little hero. This summer he slept every night in my wind chime made from knotweed Fallopia japonica.

    When the bee was kissing you, it was drinking your sweat. Anthidium manicatum and Megachile pilidens are known to drink sweat – although they are not considered as classical “Sweat bees”.

    Paul Westrich, Germanys leading expert in solitary and wild bees had also a lot of this special form of contact with the bees. You can see his photos here:
    Please don’t miss to have a look on his report with photos about a strange Anthidium nest in a decoration-house. The owners asked in the newspaper, what this could be and of course, Westrich made a meticulous examination of this nest:

    Last but not least, thank you for offering your posts in English. I learned French at school and I’m glad to be able to understand a bit from the fantastic picture-declarations from French sites like galerie-insecte.org – but I’m not able to write anything, let alone to speak.

    Moreover I really appreciate being able to be in contact this way with an other wild-bee-loving gardener, so I send you kind regards and best wishes!


    • Thank you so much for your comment. It is lovely to hear from someone who enjoys watching the bees so much. My male Anthidium in the garden patrol my Nepeta but they share it with a wide variety of other bees and insects and seem more concerned with pouncing on their own females. I love the idea of finding the male Anthidium’s bedroom! Thank you for the links, I do appreciate when news and photographs are shared. Amelia


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